Category Archives: Abuse

Jonathan Dessaules

An often cited benefit for residential associations used to be that they allowed the members greater control over their immediate surroundings. The other bonus they were promised was that collectively  they would gain political clout.  At least that was the sales pitch, along with the ever present promise of enhanced property values.  It all sounded wonderful and in a perverse sense sounded sort of logical. But as we have learned over the years not everything works the way it is supposed to.  In fact in the case of residential associations, the opposite is true.  Not only don’t the members have control over their immediate surroundings but have lost sovereignty over their own private spaces.  The existence of an HOA or Condo association is infinitely more intrusive and tyrannical than a neighborhood where the residents are on their own and allegedly have no control.  

Jonathan Dessaules joins us On The Commons. Jon is an attorney in Phoenix, Arizona.   As part of his practice   he represents homeowners against their associations.  He is one of a handful of attorneys nationwide who will only represent the owners and not straddle the fence hopping over to the HOA side when they feel like it.  Currently his is in a class of his own in Arizona.  He also has a  blog where he discusses HOA issues and gives general guidance.  It’s a great page to check out for quick guidance on some of the more common issues facing homeowners.  We talk to Jon about all the usual HOA issues common to all American homeowners but we also talk about a long and protracted case that he recently won.  His clients own a unit in an upscale condominium where the fees are in excess of $1,000/month. The condo shut the key card down, impeding access to the private unit and banned the use of the amenities until the owners forfeited  a  right they had.  So much for having greater control of your immediate surroundings in a residential association.  


Mike Gingrich

“Are you crazy?  If people knew what they were buying, they’d never buy a house in an HOA”.  That was the answer I got from a member of the HOA industry when I asked why housing consumers were not told the truth about what buying a house in an HOA entailed.  No more real words were ever spoken.  The road to an HOA or condo controlled dwelling is, by necessity, paved with lies.  So it is back to the good old “Caveat emptor,” or buyer beware philosophy.  That’s all well and good, but until relatively recently, information that is necessary for the consumer or homeowner to be able to ask the right questions or make an educated decision has been scarce. There is a lot of information for associations, and for the people who feed at he HOA trough but precious little for the person who will be funding the contents of that trough. You, the HOA homeowner.

Michael Gingrich joins us On The Commons this week.  Mike has a background in psychology and learned all about HOAs like most of us, up close and personal, he lived in one.  There is something about having to deal with all the problems and issues that are a part of almost every HOA that compels you to do your homework.  Mike was no exception.  In the process of doing his research and meeting others who found themselves in pretty much the same boat, Mike and his colleagues put together a pretty comprehensive web site called HOAs Harm .  Mike talks about the website and explains why they put it together.   You’ll want to check out the website and tune in to the show to get more information. You won’t want to miss it.

Listen to Mike Gingrich

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Bill Davis


One of the most oft cited benefits of living in the US has always been the right to own property.  Having a roof over one’s head and being able to provide a safe and happy home for one’s family has been referred to as the American Dream.  Imagine, a house in the middle of a yard, surrounded by a lush green lawn, fruit trees, flowers and room to play with the kids, grandkids and pets.  It doesn’t get much better than that! 

So when and how did the dream go so very wrong?  When did it become such a nightmare?  When did the homeowner stop being the architect of his property, the pilot of her own destiny, the author of his or her story?  And when did she or he become the hunted and the target in this insane war in the neighborhood?  What is happening in our residential developments is sounding the death knell for what some believe to have been a greatest experiment in freedom.

Bill Davis joins us On The Commons.  Bill, an attorney in Texas, defends homeowners caught in the middle of the insanity that seems to have become very much part and parcel of “living the American Dream”.  He knows and understands the legal structure of deed restricted developments but more importantly he also knows their limits.  Join us as we discuss some of the torture tactics used to bully a homeowner and the far reaching consequences of the actions of these abuses.  We also hear the incredible facts in one case that highlights what can happen when neighborhood thugs are given unfettered power to browbeat and bully a neighbor.  




Nyla Ridings

Nyla Ridings

I realize that the hardest lessons to learn are the ones we have not experienced personally. I doubt that anyone will make you perceive
that better than our guest on today’s show.

Nyla Ridings joins us On The Commons this week. I Have said this before and will repeat it, I have never had a problem with my HOA, so I have no personal experience with what it is like being targeted. Having grown up overseas, where all I ever heard was how much freer people in the US were, I was horrified by the restrictions HOAs inflict on the owners of homes in the US. How can that possibly be? Never in my entire life had anyone dared to assert the right to decide what color your shades could be. The sheer gall of it! You have all heard the daily atrocities in American housing, so I won’t go into it here but urge you to tune in to On The Commons and listen to Nyla. Hers is a baptism by fire.

All I can tell you is that Nyla had every reason to turn and run as fast as she could when she was shown a house in an HOA. Her father, a builder/developer had warned her to NEVER, EVER buy in an HOA. She did and now understands her father’s advice. She has spent a lot of time trying to warn people who have reached out to her for help once they got caught in their HOA nightmares. Listen to Nila and save yourselves a lot of heartaches. Nyla speaks from personal experience.

Listen to Nyla Ridings


Bill Davis

A good idea doesn’t need a massive support system, nor does it require all sorts of strong-arming to hold it up, but for some reason, HOAs can’t seem to stand on their own. We seem to run into more ways of forcing homeowners into accepting all the intrusive rules from nonowners. Why is that? If the concept of HOAs is so fantastic, wouldn’t you expect it to b able to stand on its own without having to be propped up? I have been baffled for ages, but I am not the only one.

Bill Davis, a Texas attorney who represents homeowners who are having problems with their Texas HOAs, joins us On The Commons. Bill and I have had this conversation online for a long time. Why do we call them Associations? Good question. Words have meaning. The words used to describe associations should reflect what the association is. We also have questions relating to our favorite topic. Do we need legislation propping up restrictions on private property? What has become of the notion that a man’s home is his castle? Are we also throwing the idea of the American dream down to the gutter? Is it time to return private property to private ownership?

Listen to Bill Davis

Rana Kahl

On The Commons

 With my apologies as I am still having issues and problems with Constant Contact.  Maybe 2022 will be the year we can get it fixed.  I am keeping my fingers crossed.  And on that note, I am Wishing you all a very happy New Year.

I would also like to thank Rana for helping me tell this particular story.  It is one I feel that needs to be told.  You will get the details when you listen to us talk.  

Regardless of where your home is it is not safe from abuse.  While we have concentrates primarily on the abuses in Homeowner associations and condominiums, it has been brought to our attention that seniors, in retirements communities are also being subjected to some of the same issues as homeowners in the aforementioned housing situations.  In fact it is even worse in some retirement communities.  

Let me start off by assuring you that I hear from friends and acquaintances in retirement communities who are extremely satisfied and thankful to be where they are.  Sadly not all of them are gems.  I heard from an 83 year old lady recently and her story made me so mad that I had to cover it.  

First of all I can’t think of a single reason to be rude to an elderly person. Manners are sadly lacking and they were non existent in this case.  The lady is question has been a resident of this particular retirement community for a couple of years, all without apparent incident, until recently.  Because of Covid, like many others established mask rules.  And as expected everyone has become an expert of how to properly wear a mask, including the concierge.  

The way I understand the sequence of events, one morning the concierge decided the 83 year old client was not wearing her mask according to the “rules.”  Oh. Don’t you just love those words?  So she followed her and took photos or videos of her.  Of course this entailed invading her private space (you know, inches from her face).  

The 83 year old did what we ALL should have done and would have done, she defended her space.  She had a glass of water in her hand and threw it at the concierge.  World war 3 broke out, the police were called and the Executive Director decided to kick the customer out, she gave her 3 weeks to get out and find somewhere else to live.  But that’s not all, she then told the lady in question to go up to her room and not come out until she leaves.  

This translates to being incarcerated in her room for 3 weeks, she may not go out for meals, be in the common areas, see or talk to anyone. I was absolutely livid when I heard that.  First of all I don’t believe this draconian dingbat has the authority to treat seniors like that and IF she does there needs to be a serious overhaul of the laws. 

Rana Kahl, who also stumbled into this story with me and shares my feelings and ideas, joins us On The Commons this week. Shu has a slightly different thought on it, a very valid one.  I, on the other hand think anyone getting a job involving the elderly need to take etiquette classes, if they were ever taught any manners they forgot it.  I was shocked at just how expensive these retirement communities are.  They are the clients, no client should be treated that way.  As I already said, I don’t believe they all operate that way but we need to be aware of what could happen.  We may have friends and family in one of these places who is treated like a child and punished by being incarcerated in isolation in their room.  Know your rights, DEFEND your rights and don’t let anyone abuse you or anyone else. 


Debbie Goonan

Please note that the wrong promo was sent out with this show. We are publishing the same show to this site as is playing on Fairfax Public Access this Saturday.

This show is dedicated to Donie Vanitzian 1950-2017 who was found dead on December 28, 2017.  For 16 years Donie wrote a weekly column for the LA Times answering questions for homeowners who were caught in a web with their homeowner associations. In addition to her column, she wrote several books on HOAs.  She was a great friend to homeowners who had nowhere else to turn and will be greatly missed.  

Over the years we have watched the people in positions of power in residential America come up with some of the dumbest rules and policies governing private property.   If they couldn’t have such potentially tragic consequences, annual awards for the dumbest of them might make for a great comedy show.  However, judging by the headlines, they don’t need any encouragement.  Probably one of the most insane to hit the news lately is the mind bogglingly stupid rule from Auburn Greens Complex HOA in Auburn, California requiring the owners to leave their garage doors open during the day or face a fine of $200.  This should be a hard sell for proponents of fines and protecting property values.

Deborah Goonan joins us On The Commons.  Deborah blogs on  Independent American Communities  where no HOA story misses her attention.  She is a prolific writer and augments all her posts with additional research and more details thus enriching her posts.  She has become a go-to person for all the latest HOA land.  I asked Deborah to help us do a round up of some of the idiotic rules that seem to be adding to the stress levels of American homeowners. She had a string of such stories lined up within minutes.  We talk about some of them, by no means did we scratch the surface of the sheer insanity that is out there.  You will no doubt agree that Condos and HOAs are a failed concept and beyond repair.  


Nila Ridings

Nila Ridings

They told us time and time again that residential associations, no matter what form, whether HOA, Condo or, coop, are there to protect our property values. By preventing our neighbor from doing something obscene like choosing the wrong shade of white for their window shades or keeping a garden hose in the front yard or, heaven forbid, having a red front door, we and our property values will be safe. Is it true? DO red front doors strip away our property values? 

Nila Ridings, a former homeowner who bought a townhouse in a homeowners association for all the reasons one might voluntarily choose such a home, joins us On The Commons. Nila talks about all the reasons she chose the house she did and then takes us on a journey through her nightmare and fills us in on what went wrong. We’ll find out just how well her HOA-controlled property did when they foreclosed on her mortgage-free house and her retirement and savings accounts were depleted. She has made it her mission to warn other homeowners about the dangers lurking around every corner and tucked between every blade of grass in the uniformly cut and manicured lawns. Hear her story in her own words.

Listen to Nila Ridings


John Sellers


Increasingly in America homeowners are treated like incompetent idiots who are incapable of managing their own lives and their homes.  Members of the HOA industry have gone as far as to equate the owners as “children who do not know what is good for them”.  Naturally they are more than happy to make all our important decisions for us- and leave us with the bill!  To add insult to injury, the false advertising and misinformation that, under most other circumstances, would be punishable by law, is swept under the rug and ignored.  Unit owners in homeowner and condo associations are often ridiculed, harassed  and penalized for demanding transparency or even questioning the  actions of the association.  Their duty is to not ask why but to pay up and shut up.

Well, times they are a changing.  Slowly but surely more and more talented people have had enough and are starting to move mountains, one stone at a time!

John Sellers joins us On The Commons this week.  John has worked in the banking industry for years and knows just where to look for any irregularities.  So when things just didn’t smell quite right, he put his talents to work and started digging.  What he discovered is quite incredible.  Not only are the people who are supposed to be protecting your rights turning a blind eye to all the shenanigans going on behind closed doors, but they are also using YOUR tax dollars to cover up some missing funds in HOA banks.  John continued digging and was told to “get a hobby”.  Fortunately for us, he took that advice to heart, expanded his search criteria and started a blog called ArizonaHOA where he intends to not only share information but to also gather information from other homeowners. He estimates there have been 3,000 court cases involving HOAs in Arizona.  Chances are those did not happen because associations were doing such a wonderful job, as proponents of HOAs would have you believe.  Tune in, it is an eye opening interview.


Karin Huffer

A timeless rebroadcast and a perpetual problem.

I am frequently contacted by homeowners who are being bullied and abused by board members and/or managers in the  association governing their neighborhood. More often than not, the source for the conflict is petty and ridiculous.   Notwithstanding the sort of personality that tends to gravitate to these positions, our legislators have seen fit to bestow extraordinary powers on them, tipping the balance very heavily in favor of the association. The experience of being caught in the crosshairs of the association causes stress induced health challenges for the homeowners.

But suppose the homeowner is disabled? The weaker and more vulnerable amongst us are more likely to be targeted because they are easier to bully, scare and abuse.  Is there any help for the?

Dr. Karin Huffer joins us On The Commons this week.  Dr. Huffer is a multi talented force to be reckoned with.  She is an author, a speaker, a trainer and now a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.  For years, Karin has known that people with disabilities are more likely to have their rights ignored, or trampled on by everyone, including the courts. She decided to do something about it.  She set up a web page and started a program called Equal Access Advocates.  She trains people to become advocates and to accompany people with disabilities in court to protect their rights. We’ll talk to Karin about her advocates, who they are and how they help their clients.  We learn a little more about the Americans With Disabilities Act and how her program ensures that people are treated fairly.  With an advocate by their side, people in court have someone very firmly in their corner.